Greetings from Benin City, Nigeria. I arrived a week ago Friday, and had hoped to send you a Monday Memo last week. My schedule and connectivity issues would not permit it, so I am going to try again today. I had a busy week last week and am facing another one this week, but I am not complaining. I have a lot of chances to talk about purpose here, and that's just what I intend to do.
Speaking of purpose, I want to continue the women of purpose in the Bible series that I began in September. We have already looked at Lydia and Deborah. This week I want to look at Mary, the mother of Jesus, and start out by making the statement that her purpose was not to give birth to Jesus. In fact, no woman's purpose is to give birth to any child. That statement may surprise you, so before you write off what I just wrote, you had better read on.
MORE THAN A MOTHER
I maintain that childbirth is not a life purpose, but a role that a women has in her life for quite a few years. She gives birth, nurtures, and cares for the child, but eventually that child is going to go. Problems arise when the child wants to go, but the mother derives so much of her identify and fulfillment from the child that she cannot let him or her go, and there can be problems. I have always taught that a women has purpose before she marries and after her children are gone and her husband precedes her to glory. Of course, there are many women who do not have children, so does that mean they are purposeless or less than mothers? Absolutely not! Therefore, if Mary's purpose was not to give birth to Jesus, what was it?
We find Mary's purpose statement uttered by Elizabeth in Luke 1:45: "Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Mary''s purpose was to preserve, oversee, and participate by faith in the promises that were uttered where Jesus was concerned. In order to fulfill that purpose, Mary had to be present at all the important occasions in Jesus' life and ministry, and exercise faith that God would do through Jesus what He promised He would do. Consider these situations where Mary was present:
- ". . . and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:18b-19). Mary was listening carefully to what was said about Jesus and kept those things in her heart, perhaps to share with Jesus, and certainly to share with the gospel writers.
- "Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: 'This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too'" (Luke 2:34-35). Mary's proximity to the events in Jesus life would cause her much pain and some confusion.
- "His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever he tells you'" (John 2:5). Mary instigated the start of Jesus' public ministry at the wedding feast in Cana.
- "When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, 'He is out of his mind'" (Mark 3:21). Like John the Baptist, Mary was not clear on how Jesus would do what she had heard God promise, and came to take Him home because she thought he was going off course.
- "Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene" (John 19:25). Mary got it straight and was there to watch her son die on the cross as a witness to God's plan.
- "When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son" (John 19:26. When Mary "sided" with Jesus, the rest of her children wanted nothing to do with her, so Jesus assigned John His disciple to care for His mother.
- "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers" (Acts 1:14). After the resurrection, some of Jesus' family "saw the light" and were present in the upper room when the Spirit was poured out. In a sense, it was Jesus sending His mother a message saying, "I arrived and the trip was good. I'm home." Is it then safe to assume that Mary spoke in tongues as the others did on the day of Pentecost?
SHE WAS THERE.
In a sense, Mary's purpose was to be there to support, protect, and clarity the plan of God for the world through Jesus. She had great faith, was present from start to finish, and had a role in the explanation of what had taken place before and during Jesus' infancy. There is no way Matthew or Luke could have written their accounts of the Nativity without Mary's testimony.
Mary played an important purpose role that God had chosen for her. While it involved her son, Jesus, it was not simply to give birth and raise Him to be a good Jewish boy. Mary played a role in the plan of salvation, and is a good example of purpose.
Ladies, I have given you a lot to think about this week. I would appreciate your comments with your thoughts, for this perspective is not often heard or shared. Feel free to write them on the site where this entry is posted. Do you agree? Is this helpful, or am I confusing you? Write when you can, and in the meantime, have a blessed week!